Following a domestic abuse arrest that came to light earlier this week, "Rat Queens" writer and series co-creator Kurtis J. Wiebe announced Friday on his personal website that artist and co-creator Roc Upchurch is no longer working on the popular Image Comics series.
"As of today, Roc Upchurch will no longer be illustrating 'Rat Queens,'" Wiebe wrote. "This is going to be a transitionary period for the series as we rebuild and prepare for a new start. I am committed to 'Rat Queens,' to stand by what it has always been praised for and to prove to the fans that they weren't wrong in loving it."
On Tuesday, Bleeding Cool reported that Upchurch was arrested by Henry County Police Department in central Georgia on Oct. 31, on the charge of "Battery - Family Violence (1st Offense)." Bleeding Cool also presented a screenshot of the booking record on the Henry County Sheriff's Office's website, and a since-deleted but cached account written by Upchurch's estranged wife on Nov. 16, stating that she was experiencing both "physical pain from him throwing me down two steps and my head hitting the floor, choking me to the point my neck feels as if it will completely snap off, smashing my face in over and over," which she stated did not compare to "the emotional pain I feel, the mental pain I feel, the pain I feel when I look at my children, the pain I feel when my sons and daughter are crying for their father."
Upchurch confirmed the arrest to Bleeding Cool, and provided his take on the incident, stating, "We've been separated for a couple months now but in this latest incident we decided to take our children out together for Halloween and she attacked me and I lost me temper and fought back. Which I shouldn't have. I should've just walked away. I know...I knew it was wrong. So much so that when I heard the police had come to my friends house where I was staying that I immediately called them back to handle whatever needed to be done."
Launched in 2013 as part of Image's Shadowline imprint, "Rat Queens" is a medieval fantasy adventure series starring four female lead characters. The book has received widespread critical acclaim, and specifically attracting praise and a passionate fanbase for its positive portrayals of female characters. In 2014, it was nominated for the Eisner Award for Best New Series.
"I have a lot of love for Roc Upchurch, I've spent a lot of time with him, at conventions and signings and quiet times over dinner when the crowds have gone away," Wiebe said in his post, writing that he was "deeply saddened" rather than angry. "Shannon and I have spent time with his wife, whom we admire greatly. With everything that has happened, I still care about and love Roc and my greatest hope is that in all this there is an opportunity to find help and for healing to take place in his family. They are never far from our thoughts."
A new "Rat Queens" series artist has yet to be announced. On Oct. 21, it was announced that Tess Fowler will illustrate "Rat Queens" #11 as a guest artist.
Image Comics declined comment on the matter when reached by CBR.